a finger with small bits on colourful plastic on it

Study of toxicity of microplastics and chemical additives using animal zebra fish model and human epithelial cell lines

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International (including EU at international rates from Sept 21)

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Svetlana Stevanovic, Dr Matthew McKenzie, Dr Anna Bogush.


This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia and Coventry University, UK.

The successful applicant will spend the 1st year at Deakin University and the following year at Coventry University and then the final 1.5 years at Deakin University

The supervision team will be drawn from the two Universities.

Project details

Microplastics (MPs) are formed by degradation and disintegration of improperly disposed plastics. The substantial increase in the MPs occurrence in the aquatic ecosystem has been recognized as an emerging concern today. Studies have revealed the toxicity of microplastics on behaviour, physiology, and reproduction of fishes. There are inadequate literature reports on the MPs impact on aquatic forms at the molecular level. On the other hand, atmospheric transport of MP has been recently defined as an important driver of MP transfer around the globe and attention to the airborne MP is increasing. Consequently, a growing body of research is needed to investigate and understand better health issues associated with ingested and inhaled MPs. Due to the widespread presence of MPs in the atmosphere, awareness of breathable MP pollution and potentially harmful effects on human health increased over the last years. It is hypothesised that the size, charge, and the shape of MP particles are critical parameters for the toxicity of MPs as they are modifying the interactions between these particles and cells and tissues. Toxicity of MPs is also believed to be associated with the bio-persistence of MPs coming from the long-term exposure and associated chronic effects. This study is aimed to investigate the adverse effects of several MP types in adult zebrafish model system and to analyse the impact of different physical parameters of MPs on their toxicity using human epithelial cell lines.


Tuition fees, bursary and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Candidate specification

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme.  

This includes:  

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates). 
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first- class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports. 
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).  
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.  

For an overview of each University’s entry requirements please visit:  



Additional requirements
  • MSc/BSc in biology, toxicology, chemistry, biochemistry
  • Strong interest in interdisciplinary research
  • Experience in laboratory and experimental work
  • Some knowledge of statistics and data analysis
  • Ability to work independently and in a team
  • Effective time management and organisation skills

How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus an up to 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

All candidates must apply to both Universities.

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Svetlana Stevanovic svetlana.stevanovic@deakin.edu.au, Dr Matthew McKenzie  m.mckenzie@deakin.edu.au, and/or Dr Anna Bogush ad2855@coventry.ac.uk

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